A Street Cat Named Bob (4 stars)

A Street Cat Named Bob

Roger Spottiswoode offers up a heartwarming take on a true-life tale, starring Luke Treadaway

Adapted from the 2012 bestseller, A Street Cat Named Bob is a wonderfully heartwarming tale of survival, redemption and kitty love. James Bowen was a heroin addict, living hand-to-mouth on the streets of London when – thanks to a kindly counsellor – he found his way onto a methadone support programme, getting to live in a dingy flat on the proviso that he rigidly stuck to his rehabilitation.

It was here that he found his real lifeline: Bob, a ginger stray who comes into his flat through an open window and never leaves. Barely able to care for himself, James (played here by Luke Treadaway) finds help with his near-neighbour Belle (Ruta Gedmintas), a vegan animal lover who volunteers at a charity vets. Gradually learning to feed something other than his own addiction, James takes Bob out busking in Covent Garden, putting him on his shoulder. He's an instant hit.

Of course the road to recovery is anything but simple, but Street Cat strikes the balance well between gritty and feel-good. OK, it's clearly less about tapping into the Trainspotting crowd than appealing to those who spend their time watching cat videos on YouTube, but it's not just reliant on cute animals. James's human relationships are just as well-drawn: with his distant father Nigel (Anthony Head), his fellow addict Baz (Darren Evans) and Belle, who has her own emotional traumas.

Directed by veteran Roger Spottiswoode – who has already paid his dues in the canine stakes, making Turner & Hooch all those years ago – some may find its depiction of drug use simplistic (dealers lurk menacingly on every corner). But it's the acting that pulls you through. Treadaway is very watchable in the lead, full of determination and desperation. And then there's Bob; yes, it's the real moggy, largely playing himself. What a performance! Actors could learn a thing or two from this ultra placid feline.

General release from Fri 4 Nov.

A Street Cat Named Bob

  • 4 stars
  • 2016
  • UK
  • 1h 43min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode
  • Cast: Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt, Anthony Head
  • UK release: 4 November 2016

James (Treadaway) is a homeless heroin addict who gets onto a support programme, which offers him a flat on condition he stick to the rules. Enter the titular cat, which forces James to care for something else. Based on a true story; Treadaway is very watchable, and Bob the cat is (largely) played by himself. Gritty and…